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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We Must Begin to View Stephen King Differently
All of King's books carry high expectations given his prolific record of entertainment. Personally, I could not wait for 11/22/63. The premise of time travel and the incredible event the author chooses to explore make for an engaging premise. Mix in the fact that King first envisioned this book in 1971 and one can not help but be intrigued. However, I found enjoyment less...
Published on Nov. 20 2011 by Jeffrey Swystun

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3.0 out of 5 stars A Morose View of Life and Fate
This was my first Stephen King novel and there were a lot of positives. It is a fluid, mature writing style; with a wide-ranging vocabulary and copious allusions. I found the English typically American. Since the setting mostly involved the Southern US and small-town communities of the 1950's and early 60's, there was a lot of slang and expressions of local coloring. King...
Published 17 days ago by S. Lerner


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We Must Begin to View Stephen King Differently, Nov. 20 2011
By 
Jeffrey Swystun (Toronto & Mont Tremblant) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 11/22/63: A Novel (Hardcover)
All of King's books carry high expectations given his prolific record of entertainment. Personally, I could not wait for 11/22/63. The premise of time travel and the incredible event the author chooses to explore make for an engaging premise. Mix in the fact that King first envisioned this book in 1971 and one can not help but be intrigued. However, I found enjoyment less in the time travel, Presidential assassination, and conspiracy aspects than I did in his descriptions, tone and atmosphere of the period he captures and the characters he builds and so effortlessly makes to interact in authentic and believable ways.

Having read King's reviews and views in Entertainment Weekly, I know he and I share an admiration of author Richard Russo. The characters Russo brings to life could easily be people we know or bump into in our daily interactions. And I believe that King has comparable skills in this area but is often not recognized as we all debate his horror plots more than we credit his admirable writing skills. He is extremely self-deprecating in this regard having been quoted as saying, "I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries."

The metaphysical time travel aspects of the book may slightly disappoint. The JFK assassination will always fascinate even though King is clear on his view of a broader conspiracy. So those two aspects are worthy reasons alone to read this book, however, the value and entertainment are found in King's exploration of human motivations, frailties, and relationships. His true skills are often over shadowed given his subject matter of vampires, haunted hotels, alien encounters, malevolent evil, and other dimensions. I am hopeful that when his career is viewed in the aggregate, it will be debated and discussed for its true contribution in exploring the balance of good and evil and how that conflict roars in each and every individual.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 11/22/63, Jan. 28 2012
By 
Arah-Lynda Hay (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 11/22/63: A Novel (Hardcover)
Stephen King is a master storyteller. We all know this. So I should not have been surprised to have been swept away from the get go and taken to the Land of Ago, but I was. I was! I walked with Jake Epping through the 50s and 60s and into my own past.

11/22/63 as the title implies is a story centered on one, of the far too many, watershed moments of our lives: the assassination of John F Kennedy. Jake Epping, a middle aged high school teacher reads a story by one of his adult students, a gruesome, heart wrenching, true story, that brings him to tears, not a common response; no wait an extremely rare, response from Jake. Shortly thereafter Jake receives a call from a local diner owner, who has a portal to the past to show him and a story to tell. He also has cancer and is enlisting Jake to act on his behalf, go back in time and save John F. Kennedy. But this is King so there are rules and Jake now has his own little bit of history that he would like to see changed.

I was taken on a journey by the King's own hand, held captive from cover to cover. And beyond! I'm not going to go in to this story. If you want a fantastic experience read it for yourselves, because it is King's story that you need to hear. Let me just say that in his masterful hands you are transported in time to the late 50's, early 60's and that he is spot on! Everything is slower, simpler, a time of Glenn Miller and swing, with 59 Chevy's and fins that went on forever! Cleaner air, unpreserved, delicious home cooking, friendly, trusting people, no cell phones, pre -Vietnam America! Camelot! Of course there is the other side of this era, from which King does not shy away: racism, domestic violence, cold wars and every ounce of oxygen polluted with first and second hand smoke. The Land of Ago born again: festering wounds and scabs intact.

What if you could go back in time and change the course of history, prevent one of those watershed moments of your own from ever happening? Would you? And if you did, what new history would take its place? As King shows us the past is obdurate, it does not want to change.

For me, this is that watershed moment. I remember everything about the day that JFK was assassinated; where I was, what I was doing, wearing, eating and thinking throughout the course of this historic day, even though I was still but a mere child. Ever since then I have wondered, on and off, many times, over the years, what life would be like if JKF had survived.

11/22/63 has now become my new all time favourite Stephen King book! It has reawakened in me everything that I have always loved about King's stories. I need more, no doubt about that. So I have physically cleared a spot for 11/22/63 on my top shelf. No doubt it will dwell there for a long, long time.

In the end all you really need to know is: Read It! Read It! Read It!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 11/22/63, Dec 4 2011
This review is from: 11/22/63: A Novel (Hardcover)
I am a fan of Stephen Kings. A Constant Reader if you will. However I do admit to enjoying some of his books more than others. This book, 11/22/63 is one of those books. I began reading with no expectations and was delighted. I found myself engaged by the characters and the lived world of the people in the story. I was curious about how the story would end but not so much that I wanted to skip to the end. This is one of his best books. Like the main character I learned about this time period in my history class in high school and now I am curious to know more. If you have a teenager who is not really a reader and has a history project this book might spark his/her imagination. It did mine. I definitely recommend this book - even to non-fans. The supernatural element is minimal, secondary even. I actually cried a little at the end (and not over the assassination or time travel). Won't give away the plot. ;-)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King's best in years, Jan. 7 2012
By 
Samantha "Critical Reader" (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 11/22/63: A Novel (Hardcover)
Don't let Stephen King's reputation for horror keep you from reading this. Nor the time travel. It is neither horror nor traditional sci-fi. It is a well constructed, thoughtful story of "what if". It has a fair amount of violence after the first 500 pages, but nothing like The Stand or Under the Dome. It is necessary violence, even when it seems superfluous. Keep reading and it will make sense. I was, once again, stunned by Stephen King's ability to write perfect sentence after perfect sentence, while bringing the characters and setting alive in a few words. The plot is highly creative. I enjoyed it heartily but started getting a little antsy a couple hundred pages into it when I realized that foiling JFK's assassination was not the main focus for the foreseeable chapters. It seemed a side story was taking over. However, once I got over that, I sat back and enjoyed this whopping good yarn about the adventures of an English teacher who travels back to 1958 from 2011, and the four years of his life leading up to the Kennedy assassination of 11/22/63, which he intends to stop. The small town of Jodie, Texas, early 60's, is where much of the novel takes place. A love story develops between the English teacher from the future and that town of the past. I found myself hoping the teacher never has to leave Jodie, because I liked it there. Of course, with élan, and at just the right time, King brings the crazy Lee Harvey Oswald to life in vivid colour. Kennedy's fate then looms largely. Although a book of fiction, King's portrayal of Oswald is based on fact, so it was interesting historically. Those parts of the book dedicated to Oswald and his associates were sometimes a bit bland, but, I promise you, the pace picks up. The last hundred pages or so are quite a ride. Apparently King tried writing this tome in 1972. I'm glad he waited until now. Personally, I needed the 50 years distance.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Characters We Can All Relate, Nov. 29 2011
By 
jacksprat "read more guy" (Kingston ON, Can) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 11/22/63: A Novel (Hardcover)
Stephen King can write a book and hold your interest from cover to cover like no other author in modern writing. I am not a great fan of blood and guts horror and do enjoy it when King veers from his better known horror books to write something different. Real horror lies in crossing into the unknown with unknown results. If that is true then you can still class this book as "horror". I was intrigued by the title and premise of 11/22/63. Can we go back in time and change events that have affected all of us? In this case the time traveler Jake Epping is allowed to go back in time to 1958. However, the book transcends the time travel aspects and takes us back to a snip of life as it existed in Texas 1958. This is the time before the civil rights movement and centered on the nuclear family. King has developed characters from the past that also transcend the era and allows us to relate and compare ourselves and our attitudes to everyday life. Are we that different? Have we really surpassed our prejudices? Are modern people better than the same nuclear people? What is mortality or immortality? King has chosen a beautiful crafted vehicle to allow us to look back and ponder. I grew up in the era the book portrays and have vivid memories of the assassination of JFK. I am not sure of King's age but he captured a lot of my past life.

The book is moving and at times can become emotional but it does all this and entertains as King is capable. The characters are all so interestingly believable whether they are past or present.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It kept me awake until 4:00 a.m., Sept. 9 2012
By 
Canuck reader (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 11/22/63: A Novel (Hardcover)
I am not a huge Stephen King fan although I love The Stand, and have read it many times. But the horror genre isn't one I enjoy. Amazon recommended this one for me, and because I recognized the date, I added it to my wish list.

When I cracked the book, I hadn't read reviews and I didn't have any idea of its premise. I read a fair amount of Sci-Fi, though, and I thought he managed the time-travel aspects really well.

I found it very well written, and as noted above, it kept me awake one night until 4:00 a.m. The whole alternative reality concept is so seductive, I blew through this book in a week; if I'd read it on holiday, it would have been a lot faster. Because the man sells so many millions of books, and you see them everywhere, it's easy to dismiss him and think he's a crappy mass market writer, when he's actually very skilled at bringing you along on a thrilling ride.

Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal book! A must-read this summer., July 12 2013
I am an avid reader and part of a book club. Stephen King's "11/22/63" was chosen as our book club's Summer Read this year. I know some people will get discouraged about the size of the novel (880 pages) but download it your Kindle or Kobo and you won't even notice it. I absolutely LOVED this novel. I am not a reader of Stephen King's typical "horror" genre but we all know that he is an amazing and imaginative story-teller and this book shines with his capabilities. The story is beautifully written and the facts are well researched. I found myself sneaking in a few pages whenever possible during my busy day. It does get a bit long in some parts but it didn't bother me as I was so into the story by then and could not put it down. The love story between the main character Jake and his lover from the "past" was incredibly heart-felt and touching and had me in tears many times during the last half of the book. AN ABSOLUTE MUST-READ!!! It is hands-down the best book I've read in at least 2 years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good reading, July 5 2012
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This review is from: 11/22/63: A Novel (Hardcover)
I wondered if I would get bored with one of his long books, but after 1/4 of the book, no boredom. He draws you in page by page and the last 100 pages are hard to put down. I enjoyed his writing and story too. Definately recommend it to any Stephen King fan.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Morose View of Life and Fate, Oct. 7 2014
By 
S. Lerner (Toronto, On) - See all my reviews
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This was my first Stephen King novel and there were a lot of positives. It is a fluid, mature writing style; with a wide-ranging vocabulary and copious allusions. I found the English typically American. Since the setting mostly involved the Southern US and small-town communities of the 1950's and early 60's, there was a lot of slang and expressions of local coloring. King did an outstanding job of describing his characters and their times. There was also an abundance of detail regarding events leading up to Kennedy's assassination. On the negative side, the story seemed to drag on at times. We were, after all, obliged to wait those five long years (1958-63) along with our hero, Jake/George, as events slowly unfolded. He had his moments, however, notably his relationship with Sadie. But the novel ends on a very sour note. Without giving away too much, I thought King's entire take on time travel, and the butterfly effect, was excessively morose. As I put the novel down I felt cheated and angry. Like Jake Epping, I had put a lot of effort into it (reading is not my forte; and for Jake - his goal was his mission). I had had great expectations. The denouement offered little by way of redemption. It is always difficult to identify with a character who takes a beating both literally and figuratively. For all his pain and good intensions, I felt Jake deserved a better fate.
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4.0 out of 5 stars `Life turns on a dime.', March 22 2012
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 11. 22. 63 (Hardcover)
This is a novel about time travel and its effects: the chance to change history by stopping President Kennedy's assassination in Dallas on 22 November 1963. What could the consequences possibly be?

In this novel, Jacob Epping (better known as Jake) is an English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. He is led to the time portal by Al Templeton, a local diner owner, whose pantry contains the portal. Al explains the process: how a few short steps through the portal take a person back to Lisbon Falls as it existed at 11.58 am on September 9, 1958. It doesn't matter how long you stay, Al tells Jake, when you return to 2011 you will have only been gone from this world for two minutes. Al wants Jake to stop the bullet that kills President Kennedy. Al would do it himself, except he is terminally ill and doesn't have enough time.

Jake is unsure of his capacity to change the past and after a first visit to familiarise himself with Lisbon Falls in 1958, he elects to deal with Frank Dunning, the father of his high school janitor Harry, who killed most members of his family on Halloween in 1958. Not all consequences of this change are positive, as Jake discovers when he returns to 2011. But, armed with Al's notes, he returns to 1958 to find out whether Lee Harvey Oswald is responsible for President Kennedy's assassination and, if he is, to make sure that Lee Harvey Oswald fails and President Kennedy lives.

For the next five years, Jake Epping becomes George Amberson, spends time teaching and falling in love, and researching Lee Harvey Oswald. Does Jake succeed in his quest, and what are the consequences? What impact could changing events in 1963 have on 2011? What will be the `butterfly effect'? Will Jake be able to find his way back to 2011, and will he want to? Jake might be the central character in this novel, but the one that remains with me is Sadie Dunhill, the woman he falls in love with.

`The past is obdurate.'

This novel is over 700 pages long, and it held my attention for the three days it took me to read it. It's unbelievable, right, but Stephen King made enough of it seem plausible to have me wondering. About cause and effect, about change and consequence. If every incident in history alters the face of the world, what would the world look like if President Kennedy hadn't been assassinated in 1963? Suppose that we can change history, should we?

Not all aspects of the novel worked for me, but I was mightily entertained. And reminded that there are about 40 other Stephen King novels that I've not yet read.

`History repeats is another way of saying the past harmonizes.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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11/22/63: A Novel
11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King (Hardcover - Nov. 8 2011)
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